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Food for Thought: The Path to Food Security in Newark, NJ, is a new documentary created by Newark’s youth. The hourlong film explores food insecurity throughout the city of Newark, in an effort to raise awareness and inspire action; it premiered at The Priory in Newark on Tuesday, January 30.

The documentary was produced by the Greater Newark Community Advisory Board with the support of RWJBarnabas Health, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey.

Food for Thought: The Path to Food Security chronicles food insecurity in Newark through the perspective of young Newarkers (ages 12 to 21) from area schools and community-based organizations. The film highlights community-based assets and ideas about how to change systems, structures, and policies to enhance access to healthy and affordable food in Newark.

“Participating in this project informed me about so many things that I wasn’t aware of, like what a Food Desert is and how important it is to have access to healthy food,” said Shakira McKnight, citizen journalist. “I also learned how important it is for my peers to be informed because if they don’t know what the problem is how can they find a solution.”

(L to R) Michellene Davis, EVP and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, RWJBarnabas Health; Nathaly Agosto Filion, Chief Sustainability Officer, Office of Sustainability, City of Newark; Shakira McKnight, Citizen Journalist; Dr. Denise Rodgers, Vice Chancellor, Inter Professional Program, Rutgers University; Darrell K. Terry, Sr., President and CEO, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey; Amarylis Olivo, Founder, Garden of Worker Bees; Debra Vizzi, President and CEO, Community Food Bank of New Jersey; Lilo Stainton, Reporter, NJ Spotlight

The driving force behind the documentary was the Greater Newark Community Advisory Board, a collaborative body of community leaders, organizations, and RWJBarnabas Health facilities working together to address the critical health issues facing the city of Newark. The documentary was supported by Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of New Jersey and RWJBarnabas Health’s SICI Practice, which seeks to address the social determinants of health that contribute to poor health outcomes, reduced life expectancy and higher costs. The Practice aims to eliminate disparities and enhance equity in the communities that RWJBarnabas Health serves.

Food for Thought will be used to facilitate community-wide conversations in all five wards of the city of Newark, focused on the key issues raised in the documentary, including the prevalence of food insecurity in Newark, the linkages between access to quality food and community health, and solutions for addressing food insecurity.

“It’s imperative that we empower our youth to tell their important stories. Food for Thought is much more than a project, much more than a film. It is their plea for awareness and change,” said Michellene Davis,

Esq., Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, RWJBarnabas Health who created and leads the hospital system’s newly launched Social Impact and Community Investment Department (SICI).

Immediately following the screening NJ Spotlight healthcare reporter Lilo Stainton moderated a crucial post-screening conversation about food insecurity with partners and community members, including,

  • • Nathaly Agosto Filion, Chief Sustainability Officer, Office of Sustainability, City of Newark
  • • Debra Vizzi, President and CEO, Community Food Bank of New Jersey
  • • Dr. Denise Rodgers, Vice Chancellor, Inter Professional Programs, Rutgers University
  • • Amarylis Olivo, Founder, Garden of the Worker Bees
  • • Shakira McKnight, Citizen Journalist

The documentary also is available on YouTube and more information is available

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